Penny Armytage on Black Saturday, collaborative government

Having a clear mandate was key to Victoria’s Black Saturday response, says former Justice secretary Penny Armytage. Better data and planning will improve policymaking, she tells The Mandarin.

“I still find myself attracted to the hard, contested issues. I keep wondering why I don’t just want to go and do some straightforward consultancy!” jokes former Victorian Justice Department secretary Penny Armytage when asked about her move from the public service to the private sector.

Armytage became a partner in charge at KPMG Australia in 2012 following a nine-year stint as a departmental secretary, where she oversaw 6000 directly employed staff and a budget of $3.9 billion. As the head of Justice, Armytage was responsible for providing policy and advice across six portfolios: Attorney-General’s, Police and Emergency Services, Corrections, Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Racing.

Since moving to KPMG, Armytage says she’s been working in a range of public policy areas at both state and federal level, including some of the tough social issues in which she’s had a historical interest: justice and security, corrections, immigration, Attorney-General’s.

“There are some issues where I think that people like me who have experience in the public sector and now in the private sector should be trying to contribute to some of the more difficult programmatic issues being faced,” she told The Mandarin. “I still find myself attracted to probably the most contentious of those.”

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